After The New Yorker’s expose on Harvey Weinstein’s misogyny, harassment of women, and rape allegations, The New York Times belatedly got around to its own deluge of Weinstein condemnation. One of the Times’ headlines, on October 11, 2017, read, “Weinstein is Gone [from his company]. But Hollywood Still Has a Problem.”
The April 2017 issue of The Atlantic offered a feature headlined with the words, “Why is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?” Another Atlantic article’s headline asked the question, “How Bad is Sexism in Silicon Valley?” The more critical question here is not about Silicon Valley practices or movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s misogyny in Hollywood. Our headlines should read, “Why Are We Not Addressing the National Problem of Sexism and Misogyny in our Culture?”
Currently, and perhaps not for his full term, Donald J. Trump is holding the office of the Presidency of the United States. That is the same Donald J. Trump who was seen and heard stating on a 2005 Access Hollywood tape, “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women — I just start kissing them; it’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything…Grab ’em by the pussy.”
There was more and more and more. Trump followed up with a description of trying to rape a woman: “I moved on her actually. She was down in Palm Beach and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try to fuck her, she was married … and I moved on her very heavily.” Sixteen different women came out and publicly accused Trump of molesting them. It took more than a little bravery for those women to speak up in the face of public shaming, the Trump circus condemning all of them. Yet their bravery came to no avail.
And “Grab ‘em by the pussy” man was elected President of the United States in November 2016. A quick glance at Trump’s administration, his White House Staff, his Cabinet and judgeship position appointments will immediately cause recognition of the imbalance. Trump’s appointees are the whitest and have the greatest number of males in positions of power since Ronald Reagan. Trump’s sexism is not simply about grabbing and kissing and forcing himself on women. His sexism extends to demeaning a brave woman Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, who dared to call him out when FEMA aid came too slowly and with poor coordination for the people of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Trump referred to Cruz as “nasty,” a term he also used on Hillary Clinton [who actually won the Presidency by over 3 million votes]. Trump accused Mayor Cruz of “poor leadership ability,” and the Puerto Rican people of, “wanting everything done for them,” adding absurd and racist insults to the injuries heaped upon American citizens in Puerto Rico by hurricane Maria.
By all means, let us pay attention to the misogyny in Hollywood and in Silicon Valley. But let us not forget our much larger problem as an American culture, as a nation—in the Halls of Congress, in our application of the law, in our too often indifference to husbands and boyfriends beating, shooting, and killing their wives and lovers.
Our misogyny, our sexism, like our racism, runs old and cuts deep. Acceptance of cruel practices that cause lasting hurt and pain is tied to power. Old, white, obscenely rich men still have the power in this country. They are holding onto it with ferocity.
Nancy Avery Dafoe